Afghanistan–Pakistan relations refers to the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Both being neighboring states, relations between the two began in August 1947 after Pakistan became an independent nation. Pakistan and Afghanistan have been described by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai as "inseparable brothers", which is due to the historical, religious, and ethnolinguistical connections between the Pashtun people and other ethnic groups of both countries, as well as trade and other ties. Both neighbouring states are Islamic republics, part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and designated by the United States as major non-NATO allies.
Relations between the two countries have been subject to various complexities over the past few decades, by issues related to the Durand Line, the 1978–present war (i.e. Mujahideen, Afghan refugees, Taliban insurgency and border skirmishes), including water and the growing relations of India and Afghanistan. However, the two states are working together to find solutions to these problems. This includes possible defence cooperation and intelligence sharing as well as further enhancing the two-way trade and abolishment of visas for diplomats from the two nations.
Southern and eastern Afghanistan is predominately a Pashto-speaking region, like the adjacent Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and northern Balochistan regions in Pakistan. This entire area is inhabited by the indigenous Pashtuns who belong to different Pashtun tribes. The Pashtuns were known historically as ethnic Afghans (and as Pathans in southern Asia) and have lived in this region for thousands of years, since at least the 1st millennium BC.
The Durand Line border was established after the 1893 Durand Line Agreement between British Mortimer Durand of colonial British India and Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan for fixing the limit of their respective spheres of influence. The single-page agreement, which contains seven short articles, was signed by Durand and Khan, agreeing not to exercise political interference beyond the frontier line between Afghanistan and what was then colonial British India. 
Shortly after demarcation of the Durand Line, the British began connecting the region on its side of Durand line to the vast and expansive Indian railway network. Concurrently, the Afridi tribesmen began risen up in arms against the British, creating a zone of instability between Peshawar and the Durand Line. As a result, travel across the boundary was almost entirely halted, and the Pashtun tribes living under British rule began to orient themselves eastward in the direction of the Indian railways. By the time of the Indian independence movement, prominent Pashtun nationalists such as Abdul Ghaffar Khan advocated a united India, and not a united Afghanistan - highlighting the extent to which infrastructure and instability together began to erode Pashtun self-identification with Afghanistan. By the time of independence movement, popular opinion amongst Pashtuns was split amongst the majority who wished to join the newly formed state of Pakistan, and the minority who wished to remain part of a united India.
Pakistan inherited the Durand Line agreement after its successful movement in 1947 but there has never been a formal agreement or ratification between Islamabad and Kabul. The agreement did not put a restriction on the free movement of the native Pashtun people who are used to traveling freely between different places since ancient times, especially during season changes. Due to this and other reasons, the Afghan government has decided not to formally accept the poorly-marked Durand Line as the international border between the two states, claiming that the Durand Line Agreement has been void in the past. This complicated issue is very sensitive in both countries. The Afghan government worries that if it ever ratifies the agreement, it will permanently divide the 50 million Pashtuns and thus create a backlash in Afghanistan. Pakistan feels that the border issue had been resolved before its birth in 1947, and it too fears a revolt from the warring tribes which could eventually bring the state down as it was done when Ahmad Shah Durrani unified the Pashtuns to topple the Mughal Empire of India. This unmanagable border has always served as the main trade route between Afghanistan and the South Asia, especially for supplies into Afghanistan.
Shortly after Pakistan was formed in 1947, Afghanistan crafted a two-fold strategy to destabilize the frontier regions of Pakistan, in an attempt to take advantage of Pakistan's post-independence instability. Firstly, it strongly aligned itself with Pakistan's rival, India, and also the USSR, which later invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Secondly, it politically and financially back secessionist politicians in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the 1960s. Afghanistan's policies placed a severe strain upon Pakistan–Afghan relations in the 1960s, up until the 1970s, when the movement largely subsided as the population came to thoroughly identify with Pakistan; although, resentment against the Punjabi elite continued to develop. The Pashtun assimilation into the Pakistani state followed years of rising Pashtun influence in Pakistani politics and the nation's bureaucracy, culminating in Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Ishaq Khan– the Pashtuns, being placed as the presidential leader of Pakistan. The largest nationalist part of the time, the Awami National Party (ANP), dropped its secessionist agenda and openly embraced the Pakistani state, leaving only the small and relatively insignificant Pakhtunkhwa Millat Party to champion the cause of independence in relation to both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Despite the weaknesses of the early secessionist movement, this period in history continues to negatively influence Pakistani-Afghan relations in the 21st century, in addition to the province's politics..
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan began deteriorating in the 1970s after Pakistan supported rebels such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Ahmad Shah Massoud, Haqqanis, and others against the governments of Afghanistan. In April 1978, Afghan President Daoud Khan was assassinated in Kabul during the Saur Revolution. This was followed by the execution of deposed Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in April 1979 and the assassination of Afghan President Nur Muhammad Taraki in September 1979. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, the United States joined Pakistan to counter Soviet influence and advance its own interests in the region. In turn, Afghan, Indian and Soviet intelligence agencies played their role by supporting al-Zulfikar– a Pakistani leftist terrorist group responsible for the March 1981 hijacking of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane. The al-Zulfiqar was a Pakistani left wing organization "formed in 1977 by Mir Murtaza Bhutto, the eldest son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was deposed by a military coup in July ... Al-Zulfikar's goal was to overthrow the military regime that ousted Bhutto." After March 1981 Al Zulfiqar claimed no further attacks. The Bhutto family and Pakistani military dictator Zia-ul-Haq shared a common enemy as Zia was the one supporting attacks against the Afghan government.
During the 1980s, the Durand Line border was heavily used by Afghan refugees fleeing the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, including the large number of Mujahideen insurgent groups who crossed back and forth. Pakistan became one of the major training ground for the ~250,000 foreign mujahideen fighters who began crossing into Afghanistan on daily bases to wage war against the Communist Afghanistan and the Soviet forces. The mujahideen included not only locals but also Arabs and others from over 40 different Islamic nations. Many of these foreign fighters married local women and decided to stay in Pakistan, among them were radical Muslims such as members of Saudi nationals led al-Qaeda and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood as well as prisoners from Arab countries.
Following the assassination of Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq in 1988, U.S. State Department blamed WAD (a KGB created Afghan secret intelligence agency) for terrorist attacks inside Pakistan in 1987 and 1988. With funds from the international community through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Pakistan hosted over 3 million Afghans at various refugee camps, mainly around Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The United States and others provided billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. There were no regular schools provided for the refugees but only madrasas in which students were trained to become members of the Taliban movement. When the Soviet Union began leaving Afghanistan, during the Presidency of Mohammad Najibullah, UNHCR and the international community assisted 1.5 million Afghan refugees repatriate from Pakistan to Afghanistan.
In or about September 1994, the Taliban movement captured the Afghan city of Kandahar and began their long conquest with help from Pakistan. The Taliban claimed that they wanted to clean Afghanistan from the warlords and criminals. According to Pakistan and Afghanistan expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" keeping the Taliban regime in power. The role of the Pakistani military during that time has been described by international observers as a "creeping invasion" of Afghanistan. UN documents also reveal the role of Arab and Pakistani support troops in Taliban massacre campaigns.
In late 1996, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan emerged and established close relations with neighboring Pakistan. However, the relations began to decline when the Taliban refused to endorse the Durand Line after pressure from Islamabad, arguing that there shall be no borders among Muslims. When the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled and the new Afghan government was formed, President Hamid Karzai began repeating the previous Taliban statement.
"A line of hatred that raised a wall between the two brothers."
The Karzai administration in Afghanistan has close relations with Pakistan's Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In 2006, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned that "Iran and Pakistan and others are not fooling anyone" when it comes to interfering in his country.
"If they don’t stop, the consequences will be … that the region will suffer with us equally. In the past we have suffered alone; this time everybody will suffer with us.… Any effort to divide Afghanistan ethnically or weaken it will create the same thing in the neighboring countries. All the countries in the neighborhood have the same ethnic groups that we have, so they should know that it is a different ball game this time."—Hamid Karzai
The Durand Line border has been used in the last decade as the main supply route for NATO-led forces in Afghanistan as well as by Taliban insurgents and other militant groups who stage attacks inside Afghanistan. In 2008, Karzai became frustrated with this and suggested that his nation may order the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to cross the Durand Line in order to defeat militants hiding in western Pakistan. Leaders in Pakistan became angry and warned against this suggestion by stating that it would not "tolerate any violations of its borders." Pakistani Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, explained that the Durand Line border was too long to police. The American government decided to rely on drone attacks instead and this began to negatively affect the US-Pakistan relations.
Relations have become more strained after the Afghan government began openly accusing Pakistan of using its ISI spy network in aiding the Taliban and other militants. Pakistan usually denies these allegations but has said in the past that it does not have full control of the actions of the ISI. There have been a number of reports about the Afghanistan–Pakistan skirmishes, which usually occur when army soldiers are in hot pursuit chasing insurgents who cross the border back and forth. This leads to tensions between the two states, especially after hearing reports of civilian casualties.
After the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, many prominent Afghan figures began being assassinated, including Mohammed Daud Daud, Ahmad Wali Karzai, Jan Mohammad Khan, Ghulam Haider Hamidi, Burhanuddin Rabbani and others. Also in the same year, the Afghanistan–Pakistan skirmishes intensified and many large scale attacks by the Pakistani-based Haqqani network took place across Afghanistan. This led to the United States warning Pakistan of a possible military action against the Haqqanis in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The U.S. blamed Pakistan's government, mainly Pakistani Army and its ISI spy network as the masterminds behind all of this.
"In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence. They may believe that by using these proxies, they are hedging their bets or redressing what they feel is an imbalance in regional power. But in reality, they have already lost that bet."
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, told Radio Pakistan that "the attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago, that was the work of the Haqqani network. There is evidence linking the Haqqani Network to the Pakistan government. This is something that must stop." Other top U.S. officials such as Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta made similar statements. Despite all of this, Afghan President Hamid Karzai labelled Pakistan as Afghanistan's "twin brother". Such words in diplomatic talks mean that Afghanistan cannot turn enemy against the state of Pakistan to please others. The two states are working together to find solutions to the problems affecting them. This includes possible defence cooperation and intelligence sharing as well as further enhancing the two-way trade and abolishment of visas for "holders of diplomatic passports to facilitate visa free travel for the diplomats from the two nations."
Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement
In July 2010, a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) was reached between Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), which was observed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The two states also signed a MoU for the construction of rail tracks in Afghanistan to connect with Pakistan Railways (PR), which has been in the making since at least 2005. In October 2010, the landmark APTTA agreement was signed by Pakistani Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Anwar ul-Haq Ahady, Afghan Ministry of Commerce. The ceremony was attended by Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a number of foreign ambassadors, Afghan parliamentarians and senior officials. The APTTA allows Afghan trucks to drive inside Pakistan to the Wagah border with India, including to the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar.
In November 2010, the two states formed a joint chamber of commerce to expande trade relations and solve the problems traders face. The APTTA agreement has taken effect after several Afghan trucks delivered fruits from Afghanistan to the Wagah border with India in June 2011. With the completion of the APTTA, the United States and other NATO states are planning to revive the ancient Silk Road. This is to help the local economies of Afghanistan and Pakistan by connecting South Asia with Central Asia and the Middle East. The APTTA is intended to improve trade between the two countries but Pakistan often delays Afghan-bound containers, especially after the 2011 NATO attack in Pakistan.
In July 2012, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to extend APTTA to Tajikistan in what will be the first step for the establishment of a North-South trade corridor. The proposed agreement will provide facilities to Tajikistan to use Pakistan’s Gwadar and Karachi ports for its imports and exports while Pakistan will enjoy trade with Tajikistan under terms similar to the transit arrangement with Afghanistan. Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan is expected to reach $5 billion by 2015. Afghanistan's economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. A 2012 World Bank report added, “In contrast, Afghanistan’s economy grew robustly by about 11 percent mostly due to a good harvest.”
Country comparison as of 2014
|Population||ca. 184 million (2014)||ca. 31 million (2014)|
|Area||796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi)||647,500 km2 (251,772 sq mi)|
|Population Density||214.3/km2 (555/sq mi)||43.5/km2 (111.8/sq mi)|
|Government||Federal parliamentary republic||Presidential republic|
|Independence||14 August 1947||19 August 1919|
|Official languages||Urdu, English||Pashto, Dari|
|Main religions||Islam 95%, other (includes Christianity and Hinduism) 5%||Islam 99%, other 1%|
|Ethnic groups||Punjabi 44.68%, Pashtun (Pathan) 15.42%, Sindhi 14.1%, Seraiki 8.38%, Muhajirs 7.57%, Baloch 3.57%, other 6.28%||Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 4%, Baloch 2%, other 4%.|
|GDP (PPP)||$885 billion (2014 est.)||$45.3 billion (2013 est.)|
|GDP exchange rate||US$292 billion (2014 est.)||$20.65 billion (2013 est.)|
|GDP - per capita||$4800 (2013 est.)||$1393 (2013 est.)|
|National debt||$52.43 billion (31 December 2013 est.)||$1.28 billion (FY10/11)|
|Currency exchange rate||98.15 Pakistani rupees (PKR) per $1||50.92 Afghanis (AFA) per $1|
|Military expenditures||3.04% of GDP (2012) or $6.324 billion||4.74% of GDP (2011) or $4.1 billion from NATO|
- Foreign relations of Afghanistan
- Foreign relations of Pakistan
- Afghanistan Pakistan People's Friendship Association
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